“Any argument that begins with a dictionary definition of the argument’s key term can be disregarded without further thought”
— Mitch Berg, “Berg’s Law”
Satire, artistic form, chiefly literary and dramatic, in which human or individual vices, follies, abuses, or shortcomings are held up to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, parody, caricature, or other methods, sometimes with an intent to inspire social reform.
Satire Is The New News
I’m old enough to remember a lot of things that would amaze people who weren’t born before I became an adult.
And when TVs had antennae, and were the centerpieces of one’s living room.
I remember when phones had cords, and phones without cords had a range of feet, not miles, and cell phones without cords were symbols of wealth and status that marked you as a junk bond king, a hip hop mogul or an oil sheikh. Also when “junk bond kings” existed, hip hop wasn’t a business of moguls, and oil sheiks were the bad guys, before they were the good guys, before they became the bad guys again.
And perhaps most jarringly, I remember when satire wasn’t more accurate at relating the goings-on in the world around its than the “journalism” of the day.
Those days are long behind us.
Please Allow Me To Introduce Myself
My name is Mitch Berg. My personal story is of little importance – but I’ll cruise through it quickly here, since it’ll help explain where some of the material comes from,
I was born, grew up, started a career in radio,and went to high school and college in Jamestown, North Dakota. In that order.
After graduating from college, I moved to the Twin Cities, seeking a career as a rock singer. I accidentally got back into radio, and worked as a producer and, for a spectacular year, a talk show host; my promise was so apparent, management put me on the air from 2-4AM Monday mornings. And I fell in love with it; the electric crackle of the air in the studio, the feeling that I was riding on the pulse of the nation – or at least the part of the nation that was awake at 3AM Monday morning – and, most of all, having a voice. For a glorious year or so, I could speak, and thousands – dozens? I don’t know – would hear me.
I figured I’d make it my career.
Most of the staff got laid off.
I knocked around a bunch of jobs – freelance news reporting, voice over artist, mover and, finally, night club DJ – a job also known as “bottoming out in life”.
About that time, I got married. ‘
I had two kids.
I changed careers – first into writing instruction manuals for terrible software, then into designing better software.
I got divorced.
By this point, it had been well over a decade since I felt I had a “voice”, at least outside my house.
Technology was about to change that.
That brings us up to 2002.
I Wanna Make Some History
In the winter of 2002, I was working at a rapidly-failing Dotcom startup. I was bored. I was underutilized – I could only look for a better job so many hours a day. I was a fairly new single parent, and stress notwithstanding, I was bored stiff
I read an article in Time magazine – back when it was still printed on paper, and also had more readers than Cracked.com – about a new trend, “blogging”.
The blog has been sort of passé lately, surpassed by the slick visuals, instant gratification and intellectual junk food found on social media.
But back then – having hit me right about the time I was starting to keenly feel the lack of a “voice” – it hit me like a bag of cliché about high-impact events in your life.
I started my blog, Shot In The Dark (Shotinthedark.info) that evening, right after I got the kids to bed. I’ve been writing it five days a week since then.
This happened during the frenetic year and a half between the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq.
Which led to my first, initially satirical, observation.